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Hagel 48, Kansas State University 27, U.s. 25, Washington 20, America 19, Us 18, Vietnam 18, Maine 17, Chuck Hagel 16, Mr. Reid 12, Madam 11, Chuck Yeager 10, United States 9, Israel 9, Mr. Kayatta 9, Vitter 9, Afghanistan 8, Spencer 7, Obama 7, Mr. Roberts 6,
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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    February 13, 2013
    12:00 - 5:00pm EST  

quorum call:
quorum call:
quorum call:
the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i have nine cuke requests for committees to meet during today's session. they've been approved by me and senator mcconnell. i ask unanimous consent these requests be agreed to and printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now ask unanimous consent that at 2:00 p.m. today the senate proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 8, the nomination of william jssments kayatta with 30 minutes for debate equally divided in the usual form, upon the use or yielding back of that time the senate proceed to vote with no intervening action or debate on the nomination, the
motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table with no intervening action or debate, and that no further motion be in order, that president obama be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. reid: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
a senator: i ask the call of the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coats: last night president obama had the opportunity to present to the american people a plan and vision for how he intends to strengthen the state of our union. while i'm pleased he finally turned his focus back to the ongoing jobs crisis in our country, i was left feeling disappointed and frustrated that the president continued to call for higher taxes to pay for more and more government spending. i don't believe the president acknowledges or at least he didn't last evening, the seriousness of our debt and fiscal crisis. we are nearly $16.5 trillion in debt, and $6 trillion of that debt is from the president's spending over the last four years. and he now has four more years to go.
yet rather than tell the american people specifically how he will reduce this unsteanlt debt he pulled out the same tired playbook and made it clear his basic fiscal plan is ever-higher taxes. an almost obsession with telling the american people you're not taxed enough. when we are taxed to death practically and when you add up not just the federal but the state and the local and the sales and the excise and the gasoline and the entertainment and all the other taxes that american people pay in their daily lives that cuts into their paycheck in a very significant way each week, the real question is, is the solution to our problem more taxes on the american people? mr. president, you got your taxes. in the fiscal cliff debate you had campaigned for this, you won the election, these were tax levels were going to expire
and with a massive tax increase on every american, we clawed back significant amount of that to protect some of the lower-paying income people, but you got your taxes, a ton of taxes and now is the time, now is the time to address the other side of the so-called balanced approach that you've been promising, spending reductions.t night gave us no indication that the president is dedicated to leading on this critical issue and fixing our economy and, importantly, getting more people back to work. instead of detailing a plan to reduce the record high debt, he outlined a liberal laundry list of new government programs and initiatives. i could almost hear the sound of the cash register in the background --kaching, kaching,
kaching, with every new frahm thaprogramthat i put forward. some of these ideas were worthy ideas, but we can't afford them. how are we going to pay for them? and the result is, because the president will say in a most disingenuous way, that none of these initiatives will add a dime, he said, to the already unsustainable debt. well, if it doesn't add a dime to the debt and you're proposing all kinds of programs that are going to cost a lot of money, there's only one way you can pay for it and that is to raise taxes. or to continue to borrow money and put us in an ever deeper hole and debt, more obligated to our creditor with each day that goes by. hoosiers and americans across the country are taxed enough. washington cannot keep asking hardworking americans to dig deeper and pony up more money so
that the federal government can spend more. the american people no longer are falling for that. hoosiers tell me that they want to do their part to restore the fiscal health of this country. they want to do their part to help america become a better place and a more prosperous nation for their children and their grandchildren. they're willing to step up and do what it takes to help. but hoosiers and the american people are not willing to be enablers to washington's spending addiction. they want to see their lawmakers and this administration reform the outrageous, out-of-control spending, not continually call for ever higher taxes to spend for ever greater spending coming out of washington. now, i have to say, i was somewhat encouraged that the president mentioned he's willing to make modest reforms to programs like medicare.
both republicans and democrats i think and believe, including the president, agree that medicare, medicaid and social security represent the biggest portion and ever-growing percentage of government spending. the nonpartisan congressional budget office recently reported that spending on medicare, medicaid and social security and the interest on the debt for that spending will consume 91% of all federal revenues in ten years. that then takes all the wind out of our sails in terms of those necessary functions of the federal government, like preparing adequately for our national security and defense, and a number of other things that the federal government is involved in that are essential functions. but with the mandatory spending eating up in ten years 91% of all that we take in, we simply are not going to have the ability to pay for those
programs. with 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day, we know that this status quo is unsustainable. we cannot afford to continue the way we are. these programs are in jeopardy, programs are in jeopardy. we're not trying to take away the programs. we're trying to save the programs. they're in jeopardy, though, if we don't take steps now to restructure them in a way that will control costs and preserve benefits for current and future recipients. hardworking hoosiers and millions of americans have spent a lifetime paying into these programs and they rely on the health and security benefits that they receive from them. but these benefits will not last if we ignore the facts about the current fiscal status and insolvency that these programs are careening toward and do nothing. so i was glad the president at least acknowledged that we need
to -- quote -- "make modest reforms" i think we can do that. and the reason we are dealing with this across-the-board sequester and the reason why we're talking about potential cuts that have to be made is because we have not had the courage and the will to stand up and recognize and acknowledge that it's the mandatory spending reforms that in the long term will put us in a place of fiscal health so that we can continue the effective and essential functions of the federal government. according to the international monetary fund, to cover current obligations for social security, medicare, and medicaid, our younger generation, our young people will either have to pay 35% more taxes or receive 35% lower benefits. those are the facts. do the math. do the arithmetic. this isn't ideological. this isn't republicans versus democrats, liberals versus
conservatives. this is pure numbers, pure math. it's an unsustainable course and it's going to result in a massive decrease in benefits for those who pay in to those programs over a lifetime or a massive increase in taxes on those who have to have that deducted from their paycheck and put into these programs in order to keep them solvent. so we've got to deal with that problem and deal with it now. we should have been dealing with it years ago. we've seen this train wreck coming, and it's getting ever closer. now it's time for the president, having recognized the need to address this issue, now is the time he needs to show the american people he's willing to lead, not from behind but from the front, and offer a specific plan to reform and strengthen our health and retirement security programs. the president said this sequester across the board, everybody gets nicked is a terrible idea. well, it was his terrible idea, and it's not the best way to
address our spending plight. it's not the best way to deal with this. because it basically says every program is of equal value, that what is spent to secure the -- provide security for the american people by having a -- an adequate and strong military is at the same level of some program that has been proven years ago as being totally dysfunctional and not working. and i will be laying out a number of things, as others have, as senator coburn and others have, in terms of those programs not that we think ought to be eliminated or trimmed or don't fall into an essential category in terms of the role of the federal government, but what the nonpartisan agencies like congressional research office, general accounting office, or even the president's own office of management and budget have recommended that these programs are not worthy of the support they receive because they're not an essential function or they're dysfunctional.
so we don't have to delve into the across-the-board sequester, which we have no choice to do but now because we've failed to live up to what we needed to do. and i'll be talking about that later, as i said. mr. president, in closing, i urge you to focus on fixing our country's fiscal health. we don't do that by raising taxes. you do it by enacting bold spending reforms. you do it by reducing our debt. you do it by creating a budget so we can live within our means. and you do it by promoting growth, growing our economy. a growing economy can solve a lot of problems and get a lot of people back to work. this is how we strengthen america and this is how we get americans back to work, and it's time we got to work in accomplishing this task that lies before us. now, not later. no more deferrals. no more pushing it down the road. time to step up now. and as the president said, putting the interest of our
country ahead of our own personal political interest. rising above the political to do what's right for america. that's the challenge, mr. president, and we need your leadership. with that, i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: thank you, madam president. i ask unanimous consent to enter into a colloquy with my republican colleagues. the presiding officer: the senate is currently in a quorum call. mr. vitter: excuse me. i ask unanimous consent to call off the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. vitter: now i ask unanimous consent to into a colloquy with my republican colleague from alabama and any other members who may join us. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. senator sessions and i take the floor to talk about immigration. obviously, a very important and very hot topic. and the first point i would like to make is just a simple statement, a simple suggestion. there's been a lot of activity and a lot of discussion about immigration here in the senate
and in the congress in washington, d.c. i think if you merely listen to a lot of beltway so-called mainstream reporting about this, they would give you the impression there is near universal consensus around this model, a model we've tried before, a so-called comprehensive approach. and the first thing i would say, madam president, is i don't think there is anything near universal agreement. i don't think there's consensus, i think there are real questions and concerns among many of us here in the senate, here in congress, but much more and much more importantly, in america in the real world. and, madam president, i think those fundamental concerns come down to one thing, and the thing is we've tried this so-called comprehensive approach before. we've tried proposals that marry
an immediate amnesty with promises of enforcement. and, madam president, that model just hasn't worked before. in fact, it's failed miserably. the most notable example is in 1986. major immigration legislation. same model, comprehensive, immediate amnesty with promises of enforcement. promises that we'll just have to do this once, never look back, the problem will be solved. but of course, madam president, the problem wasn't solved, it didn't even just continue. the problem was quadrupled. the amnesty did happen immediately. as soon as the bill passed, that virtually immediately kicked in. the promises of enforcement were just that, promises. and those promises were not kept, and as a result, what happened with that model? the problem of three million illegal aliens didn't go away,
wasn't solved once and for all, it quadrupled and became the present problem of 11 million or 12 million or more illegal aliens. that's the fundamental concern i have with most of the so-called comprehensive proposals being put forward. that's the fundamental concern louisianans i talk to every day have. we want to solve the problem. we don't want to perpetuate it, much less quadruple it. so i think it's important to discuss alternative, more effective, more workable approaches. i have several ideas about what those approaches might look like, and, in fact, i'm introducing a package of immigration bills today. i'll talk about that further, but i certainly want to recognize and thank my good friend and colleague, senator sessions from alabama, for joining me on the floor today.
mr. sessions: thank you, senator vitter and thank you for your leadership and in-depth study and knowledge about how these laws are working and really not working in america today. i just left a hearing in the judiciary committee. senator leahy, the chairman, said basically referring perhaps to me, that they want enforcement first, but it seems they don't have any interest in amnesty or words to that effect. i would say the american people's view is exactly the opposite. what the american people have been asking for, what they're afraid of is that we'll have a deal like 1986 and the amnesty provisions become law, they become final, they activate themselves directly, and the promises of enforcement don't occur.
and so i really believe that that is a danger again. it feels to me so much like 19 -- 2007 when senator vitter and and others engaged and asked tough questions about the legislation that resulted in its failure, really, because it couldn't do and would not have done what the authors of it said it would do. and so for 30 or 40 years the american people have said end the lawlessness. that's what they've asked of us first. they'll work a way to be compassionate and realistic if that lawlessness is ended but that hasn't happened. and, in fact, we've gone in the opposite direction in a number of ways. improvement has occurred at the border in real numbers, because over the last several years before president obama took office, we agreed to to increase the norm of border
patrol agents. i forced through, i say forced through, with the help of senator vitter to build a fence. senator vitter, you remember that debate. now everybody is talking about we've got a fence. it's about half the real fence that we asked for, and they're bragging about it. but don't you remember, senator vitter, how they opposed every foot of it, how they resisted every way possible and they didn't really favor adding border agents. you could kill that -- one way could you vote for border agents and i remember speaking about it but never produce the money. so we had authorized border agents, people said they were for border agents but they wouldn't vote for the money and we had a big discussion and debate about that and eventually we added some border agents. so that's helped but it's not fixed, but internally this administration has systemically dismantled enforcement inside
the united states and chris crane, the head of the border patrol union, a great guy, a marine, is just totally exasperated. the border patrol union has voted unanimously, senator vitter, no confidence in john morton, the head of that ice department. they've sued the i.c.e. department because of being blocked from doing their sworn duty to enforce the law, and i asked him today as secretary napolitano who testified today, had she ever met with him? because i asked her about it last year and the bad morale that was that a -- that i.c.e. agents had and he said he'd never met her and never shaken hands with her. so we don't have the kind of commitment to law enforcement at this point that gives i think the american people confidence that we're moving on a right path. and i would just share with you
finally that i do think that means that this is no shoor sure thing, that -- no sure thing, that people are awfully confident as long as some big names are on the bill it's just going to pass and i'm not confident that's so. mr. vitter: thank you, senator. i certainly agree. and, again, the fundamental issue is, is this model that's been tried before really going to work? and -- an immediate amnesty with promises of enforcement. unfortunately, madam president, history is littered with examples of that exact model failing, and with those promises of enforcement never being kept. what do i mean by that? i mentioned 1986, the biggest historical example. again, an immediate amnesty but we're going to get serious about enforcement, we're going to really do it, we'll never have to look back. we'll just have to do this once. we'll solve the problem. but, of course, it didn't solve the problem.
it quadrupled the problem. three million illegal aliens then, 11 million to 12 million illegal aliens now. there have been promises of a u.s. visit program, an entry exit system to track everyone entering into the country to make sure they exit in time. that was first promised back in 1986, ten years later, 1996, congress passed another act to require a fully integrated entry-exit system and full implementation by 2005. guess what, madam president, 2005 has come and gone, it's been 30 years since that initial promise was made. we still don't have an operational effective u.s. visit system. madam president, my colleague from alabama mentioned another glaring example, the fence, the secure fence act.
in 2006 we actually passed it in legislation. the secure fence act of 2006 promised to achieve operational control of the entire border. operational control the entire border. and it defind operational control. quote, "the prevention of unlawful entries into the united states including entries by terrorists, unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics and other droon band" -- close quote. well, we clearly haven't achieved that. in fact, we're so far from that goal, d.h.s. has had to weaken even the definition so that it now only talks about effective operational control. have to stick the word "effective" in because we were never nearing operational control. now, who knows exactly what that means, but the g.a.o. tried to define it and tried to measure it in a recent report.
they found in their recent report that only 44% of the southern border was under any sort of operational control, only 15% of that under full operational control. so even if you use the loosey goosy word "effective" you have less than half of the border under that control, more than half is under what they called managed control, which often means no control. it often means almost fully unfettered illegal crossings. and now we come to today with this debate, and the new promise of if you just give us this immediate amnesty, we are going to have this enforcement, we promise, we promise, we promise. again, to us we're concerned that we're reliving history in a negative way.
when the gang of eight for instance declares that they will -- quote -- "ensure a successful permanent reform to our immigration system that will not need to be revisited" -- close quote. that sure sounds like 1986. this one fix will never have to look back, but, of course, we are looking back because the problem has grown. it's interesting, the day after, the very day after that gang of eight announcement, there was even disagreement between some of the gang members regarding what they announced and what they promised. many of the republican members of that gang of eight emphasized that enforcement has to happen, otherwise nothing else is triggered. and yet on the other side of the supplemental political spectrum spectrum, senator schumer, also a member of the gang of eight, walked back any commitment to fully secure enforcement before citizenship happened and he said -- quote --
"we're not using border security as an excuse or a block to the path to citizenship." so there you have it right there, the day after the april national endowment, there -- after the announcement, there is inconsistency about how serious they are about ensuring enforcement. that's the fundamental question, madam president. that's the fundamental i think very legitimate concern, given past history. we propose a different path forward, a targeted step-by-step approach to prove to ourselves, to prove to the american people that we're serious about these enforcement and related reforms, to do those, to have them working before we move on anything else. today i'm introducing a series of bills that fall into that targeted step-by-step approach. i won't use the word
"comprehensive" because i think that word is a negative to me. it is targeted and it is step by step. and i'll outline those bills in a minute. but i certainly again want to thank and recognize the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: senator vitter, would you say that enforcement of immigration laws is an area based on your experience in congress, the house and the senate, where we -- the difference between the promises of what's going to happen and what actually happened is greater than almost any other issue we've dealt with? people promise this and only deliver this? mr. vitter: absolutely, senator. unfortunately, that's the history, tried and true. lots of promises, no single major promise has been kept. whether it's the fence, whether it's the u.s. visit program, whether it's the overall promise of enforcement in 1986, none of
those promises have been kept. mr. sessions: well, according to some news reports to follow up on the point you just made about sending two messages, one promising the people this and another one telling special interest groups and other -- other things, one report had democratic senators have assured activists, immigration activists, that the so-called enforcement trigger is -- quote -- "-- is just a -- quote --"talking point." to give republicans who are supporting this scheme, this idea, cover, and they will not be an impediment ever an impediment to the achievement of amnesty. does that make you uneasy that the people that are supposed to be meeting in good faith and telling their republican colleagues and the american people that they've got a plan that's going to guarantee enforcement, while they're
telling apparently the activists something quite different? mr. vitter: that makes me very nervous and very uneasy, senator. it's exactly what senator schumer said the very next day after the announcement. "we're not using border security as an excuse or a block to the path to citizenship." mr. sessions: in other words, -- well, the words are quite plain. senator summer is saying, i have a great deal of respect for him, i know he wants to accomplish something valuable here. but it does him to be saying that, well, if enforcement doesn't occur, we promise there would be a trigger and there would be no amnesty unless enforcement occurs, but really, if we get there and enforcement doesn't occur, you're still going to get your amnesty. mr. vitter: that's what it sounds like to me accident, sen. sounds like to me the trigger is meaningless. the amnesty and the even full
citizenship -- to me, amnesty is any legal status, but they're actually talking about a path to full citizenship will happen ultimately no matter what on the enforcement side. mr. sessions: so i would just conclude and yield to my esteemed colleague to lay out some ideas that he has to actually improve enforcement so if we get to the point where we can achieve a legal system that operates effectively in america, that we'll know it when it happens and we can get there. without some of these provisions that senator vitter will recommend, i'm confident we will not get there. and if people won't support these kind of provisions, then it raises questions about are they serious about their promises to end the lawlessness. we just left the judiciary committee committee hearing. mr. vargas, who testified, was
here apparently illegally, came he said at age 12. and i asked him, should a good nation have a legal system that has clear laws, clear policies and those laws are enforced. and he said yes. so it's nothing wrong, it's nothing immoral, it's nothing unconstitutional for the american people to say we have -- we should have a lawful system of immigration. everybody's not able to come. you have to wait in line and wait your turn and meet the qualifications before you come. and if you try to enter illegally, there will be consequences to that. there's nothing immoral about that. it's only common sense. it's only the right thing to do. so thank you, senator vitter, for your work on this and the ideas that you'll be presenting to us. mr. vitter: thank you, senator sessions, for your leadership on this issue and on the judiciary committee. there is, madam president, an alternative way forward, a
positive, productive way forwa forward, a targeted, step-by-step approach that is appropriate, particularly given all the broken promises of the past. the american people need to be convinced, and who can blame them? again, the landscape of this issue is littered with utterly broken promises. we need to rebuild that trust and rebuild that confidence. and we only do that in a targe targeted, step-by-step way. i don't claim to have all the answers but i am introducing today seven bills -- actually, six bills and i'm joining senator grassley as a coauthor of a seventh bill that would be important parts of this target targeted, step-by-step approach. let me briefly mention what those seven bills are. first of all, the stem jobs act of 2013. this would make up to 55,000 visas available to qualified immigrants who we need in this
economy, well educated, qualified. we have jobs here ready for them. they would be an enormous economic boost. they would have a doctorate degree in a field of science, technology, engineering or math from a u.s. doctoral institution and would have taken all doctoral courses in a stem field while in the u.s. we train, we educate those superqualified folks all the them and then all too often we send them back to their native countries and don't allow them to remain here to get on a pathway to citizenship and to contribute as they would to our economy. child tax credit law. this would amend the i.r.s. code to simply put in place significant identification requirements for the child tax credit to require taxpayers to provide that valid i.d. to cut
out what is admitted to be rampant fraud in the system. the i.r.s. itself and its inspector general office has said there's at least $4.3 billion of fraud a year in the child tax credit. these checks from the taxpayer, actual checks going out to illegal recipients who do not qualify under the law. in some cases, dozens, allegedly, at a single address, a single family. it's clearly fraud. we just need some basic requirements to cut out that fraud. the i.r.s. itself under this administration has asked for those tools. we should give them those tools under this tax -- child tax credit legislation. sanctuary cities reform would prohibit appropriated funds from being used in contravention of the illegal immigration reform and immigrant responsibility act of 1986. and i'm joined by senators grassley and senator fischer in
that legislation. too many jurisdictions in the united states are self-proclaimed sanctuary cities, and by doing that they are in contravention of federal immigration law when they say they will not cooperate in the enforcement of that law in any way. that's unacceptable and those cities should not get appropriated funds. everify, i mentioned, is an initiative and legislation by senator grassley. i'm proud to join him as a coauthor. i'm an original cosponsor of that bill. it would take the present everify system and make it mandatory and expand it so that is our work force system of enforcement. everify works. the problem is, it's a pilot. it's not mandatory and it's not broad enough, and we need to broaden and make mandatory that
workable everify system. the voter integrity protection act. it would amend the n.i.a. to make voting in a federal election by an alien who is unlawfully in the u.s. an aggregate -- an aggravated felony, which makes it a deportable offense. if you're illegally participating in our elections, that is a serious offense to any democracy. that should be a deportable offense. the birthright citizenship act. that would also amend law to consider a person born in the u.s. -- quote -- "subject to the jurisdiction of the u.s. for citizenship only if the person is born to at least one parent who is a u.s. citizen or national or a lawful permanent resident alien in the u.s. or an alien performing active service in the u.s. armed forces." right now it's, in my opinion,
an accident of history and a mistake that any child physically born here, even of two parents here illegally and improperly, automatically becomes a u.s. citizen. virtually no other country in the world has this rule. this reform would simply amend u.s. law to have the same basic rule as virtually every other country in the world that i'm aware of. you don't automatically become a citizen just because you're physically born here. at least one parent has to have that legal status. and, finally, u.s. visit reform. to require finally, after decades of promises, after decades of broken promises, to require that the u.s. visit system, the biometric border check in/check-out system first required by congress in 1996 -- that's well past its implementation date of 2005 --
be finished, be done, be fully in place before any of these other triggered aspects of so-called comprehensive reform happen. and on that reform, i'm proud to be joined by senators session and lee as coauthors. so again, madam president, i'm introducing these six bills today. i'm also an original cosponsor of the -- of senator grassley's everify bill, a seventh bill. i think this is a targeted, step-by-step approach which is the right alternative to so-called comprehensive reform, which historically means immediate amnesty married to promises of enforcement that never happen, that never fully materialize. i urge my colleagues to look hard at these measures and hopefully support some or all of them. i urge them even more to -- to go back home, to listen to their constituents, to listen hard at
the neighborhood coffee shop and at town hall meetings because i think these sorts of concerns, as senator sessions and i have expressed today, are "the" core concerns, "the" core questions of a great majority of the american people. thank you, madam president. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
quorum call:
quorum call:
quorum call:
quorum call:
ms. collins: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that proceedings under the call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive
session to consider the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, william j. kayatta jr. of maine to be united states circuit judge for the first circuit. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will now be 30 minutes of debate equally divided in the usual form. ms. collins: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, madam president. madam-- thank you, mr. presiden. mr. president, i'm delighted to rise today in strong support of the confirmation of william kayatta of maine to serve on the u.s. court of appeals for the first circuit. mr. kayatta was originally nominated for this position more than a year ago. he was approved by the judiciary committee on a bipartisan vote last april. unfortunately, despite his
exceptional qualifications, his nomination was stalled by election year politics. well, that is finally behind us, mr. president. i'm pleased that the president has renominated mr. kayatta, and i want to thank the chairman of the judiciary committee, my colleague from vermont, senator leahy, the ranking member, senator grassley, and indeed all of the members of the senate judiciary committee for acting promptly and positively in favor of mr. kayatta's nomination. let me also express my gratitude to the two leaders, senator reid and senator mcconnell, for moving his nomination so quickly to the senate floor. mr. president, mr. kayatta is an
attorney of exceptional intelligence, extensive experience and demonstrated integrity. i cannot tell you how highly regarded he is in maine's legal circles. in fact, if you ask virtually any attorney or judge or prosecutor or anyone, law professor, anyone involved in the legal profession in maine, they will tell you that the president could not have made a better choice than bill kayatta. he graduated magna cum laude from both am hers college -- amherst college and hazard university where he served as a member of the law school's law review. after graduating from law school, mr. kayatta clerked for
the chief judge of the u.s. court of appeals for the first circuit, frank coffin. it is a wonderful symmetry that he now is -- assuming the confirmation goes well this afternoon, will be joining the court for which he clerked many years ago. in 1980, he joined the prestigious law firm of pierce atwood in portland, maine, where over the subsequent 32 years, bill has specialized in complex civil litigation at both the trial and appellate levels. bill kayatta has served as chairman of both the maine professional ethics commission and the maine board of bar examiners and as president of the maine bar association. in 2002, mr. kayatta was
inducted into the american college of trial lawyers, and in 2010, he was elected by his peers to the college's board of regents. mr. kayatta has simultaneously maintained a very substantial pro bono practice. in the year 2010, he received the maine bar foundation's howard dana award for career-long pro bono service on behalf of low-income mainers. in 2011, the u.s. supreme court appointed him as a special master in kansas versus nebraska and colorado, an original water rights case, and that, too, is an indication of the court's confidence in mr. kayatta's legal abilities.
finally, mr. kayatta has earned the american bar association's highest rating, unanimously well qualified, reflecting the a.b.a.'s assessment of his credentials, experience and temperament. mr. president, mr. kayatta's impressive background makes him imminently qualified for a seat on the first circuit. his 30-plus years of real-world litigation experience would bring a valuable perspective to the court. the first circuit, mr. president, has only six authorized judgeships, the fewest of any circuit, so it acutely feels any -- fills any vacancy that arises. the first circuit has not been at full strength since january
january 1, 2012, when judge kermit lapez took active senior status. now the circuit's caseload must be distributed among just five judges who continue to do their best to provide the timely and measured justice for which the first circuit has long been known. mr. president, the state of maine is very proud of its history of providing superb jurists to the federal bench. i am confident that william kayatta will continue in that fine tradition, and i urge my colleagues to join me today in voting for his confirmation, a vote that is long overdue but has finally arrived. and again, i want to thank the
chairman of the judiciary committee, the ranking minority member and the two leaders, senator reid and senator mcconnell, for moving this important nomination to the senate floor. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i thank the senior senator from maine for her kind words, and i would note for -- both for william kayatta and for the people of maine that she has fought long and hard for this nomination. she did last year. she has this year. i'm glad we're going to be finally voting on it because every time i meet her anywhere in the halls or anywhere else, it would be what about kayatta?
she knows that he, of course, had my strong support, as he did another one of our new englanders, former justice and now judge david souter. and i am -- i'm sorry that it's taken so long. the senate judiciary committee committee moved this nomination through quickly, it's been stalled on the floor since then. so i'm glad he's going to finally receive a vote. it's well past time for the senate to vote on robert bacharach and richard taranto. as for -- that's for the 10th and federal circuits and those should be moving. we -- you know, i look at a nominee like this where the senior senator from maine, senator collins, her
predecessor, or her former colleague, senator snowe, now her current colleague, senator king, have all supported this person from maine. in the past, especially when it's somebody extraordinarily well qualified as he is, in the past the nomination like that would be out of the committee and off the floor within a week. and we've got to go back to those times. if we have a contentious nominee, if we have somebody who should be devastated, let's debate -- debated, let's debate them. but if you have a person strongly supported by the home-state senators and has the added advantage of being highly qualified by anybody's standards, republican, democratic, or anybody else, then they ought to get a vote. we have judicial vacancies right now stand at 90 and i mention that because during president bush's entire second term, four
years from 2004 to 2008, vacancies never exceeded 60. now, i worked very hard to keep the vacancies down. but since president obama's first full month in office, as far as we can see, there have never been fewer than 60 vacancies. it 3450e7bs people who come to our courts looking for impartial justice can't get it because there are no judges. and i will put in a moment a longer statement in the record outlining a number of these that have been delayed and what it's doing to our judicial system, and it's hurting the integrity of the judicial system. i hear this from judges nominated by republican presidents and those nominated by democratic presidents. they say this delay -- these delays politicize the courts and destroy the impartiality the
federal courts have to have. i will speak more on this as we go long but i want to congratulate not only senior senator from maine and also senator king but also the people of maine, the people of the first circuit, the circuit needs to have its vacancies filled and i am glad that we have such a good person. i'd ask consent my full statement be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: and i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: i ask consent the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, i yield back all time, both sides. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
all time asking having been yielded back is question is on the nomination. mr. leahy: i ask the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to change their vote? if not, the yeas are 88, the
nays are 12. and the nomination is confirmed. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate will resume legislative session. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. manchin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: mr. president, are we in morning business? the presiding officer: we're in a quorum call. mr. manchin: i ask consent to vitiate the quorum, please. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. manchin: mr. president, few americans have helped this great country reach for the stars more than general chuck yegor. long before there were astronauts, there was chuck yegor, a fearless test pilot, a true aviation pioneer paving the way for america's exploration of the galaxy. but chuck yeager's military career involves so much more than just testing cutting-edge aircraft. and, as almost everyone knows, becoming the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound. few americans have been as unwavering and as relentless as chuck yeager in the defense of
this great country in war and peace, from world war ii to vietnam. he was part of the greatest generation of americans, the generation that fought and won world war ii, and then came home and made america the world's greatest superpower. and among the greatest in that generation was chuck yeager. mr. president, today is chuck's 90th birthday and i invite the entire senate to join me in congratulating him. i'm so proud of this man. not only is a native son of west virginia but he is also a dear friend of mine. chuck lives in california now with his wife victoria, but he still comes to west virginia to hunt with me and rom roam the hs where he grew up. he also visits the state from time to time to promote the foundation which bears his name and which supports the scholarship program at marshall university. when i was governor, chuck and victoria would sometimes visit
gail and me in the govern h govs manning. some of you know i'm a pilot and during one of these visits i got him to join me on a flievment w. we were trying out a new airplane for the state. it was a real honor but it was a little bit daunting, if you will, that i'm flying left seat and chuck's right behind me evaluating the entire flight. looking over my shoulder, having the greatest pilot that ever lived was -- was something that i will never forget. some of the story of chuck's life you probably know and some of it you may not. chuck grew up in the small town of hamlet so deep in an a pa la chan hollow, folks said you us d to bump in sunshine. his mother took care of chuck. chuck and his father went hunting and fishing together. chuck also worked with his
father. he was as if canadian by the drilling equipment. he also liked cars. he liked real fast cars. and he especially liked his old man's self-y truck. he not only drove it he studied all of its mechanical details smed he could basically take it apart and rebuild it. so looking back, it is not surprising that in the middle of world war ii, a patriotic kid from west virginia, good with rifles, mechanically -- mechanical equipment and fast cars enlisted in the united states air force as an airplane mechanic. his first step toward becoming the single-greatest pilot that has ever lived. as a mechanic he started out. a new flying sergeant's program eventually gave him his first chance to fly. up until that time, it was officers only. but his first couple of training flights didn't go so well. some people might not know this. he had to overcome air sickness. can you believe chuck yeager
getting air sick? but before long he found a new home in the sky, in the cockpit of an airplane. mr. president, during warld warg world war ii, chuck shot down 13 enemy aircraft, five in one mission. he was shot down over german-occupied france in 1944 but escaped capture fly another day. but first he had to argue his case against being sent home under a no-more combat rule. the rule was basically when you were shot down, they couldn't let you go back in if case you were captured. he pushed his way up the whole chain of command all the way to the supreme allied commander, general divide d. eisenhower, right to the supreme allied commander. ike granted chuck's request to stay with his men. after the war, chuck became a
test pilot. in 1947 he did what no man had done before -- he broke the sound barrier and the experimental x-1 plane named after his late-wife. his fabled flight ushered in a new era of aviation. and so began the legend of chuck yeager. there were other pilots -- author tom wolfe wrote in "the right stuff," -- a movie most of us have seen, "with enough piloted ego that they were actually better than this drawn hat dog. chuck had a way with words. but no one can attest to the fact that as of that time, the 1950's era, chuck yeager was at the top of the pyramid, number one among all the true brothers. throughout his long military career, general yeager flew more than 10,000 hours in more than
330 models of aircraft. in 1966, he even flew 1267 missions in -- 127 missions in south vietnam. he received the silver star, the presidential medal of freedom and the special peacetime medal of honoring. he was the youngest military pilot to be inducted into the aviation havel fame in 1973. chuck officially retired from the air force in 1975 but maintained his status as a test pilot for another three decades. occasionally flying for the air force and nasa ras a consultant. in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of the his historic flight breaking the sound barrier, he flew past mach i again. it was his last official flight with the air force. but of course nothing stops
chuck yeager. so last october on the 65th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier, he did it again in another aircraft at the age of 89. whenever he's asked about all of his exploits, chuck says he was just doing his job, and that all he is he owes to the air force. he's never, ever wavered from that. in his awl auto biography he wrote, "my beginnings back in west virginia tell who i am to this day. my accomplishments aes a pilot tell more about luck, happe happenstance and a persones destiny. but the guy who broke the sound barrier was the kid to swam the mud river with a swiped watermelon or shot the head off a squirrel before school." tom wolfe believed chuck yeager to be the most rightous of all possessors of the right stuff. the right stuff wolfe himself struggled to explain what he meant by it.
his best explanation was that the right stuff is that rare, almost indefinable mix of bravery, heroism, hard work, and focus that someone brings to a cause that means something to a people, to a nation, to humanity, to god. mr. president, that describes general chuck yeager as well as anything else that i know. he is a man of extraordinary skill and legendary courage, and he has an unparallel sense of duty and service to his country. risking his life over and over again. he is a great west virginian, he is a great american. and on his 90th birthday, he still is, without a doubt, a man with the right stuff. i wish my dear friend the happiest of birthdays. and, mr. president, i urge every senator to join me in saluting general chuck yeager for his long and courageous service to this great country. thank you, general yeager.
i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: it is my understanding, mr. president, that we are in a period of morning business? the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. roberts: we are in a quorum call. i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. robert thank you, mr. president. -- mr. roberts: thank you, mr. president. i rise too speak i to speak in g business for such time as i may consume. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. roberts: p mr. , today i rise to commemorate, along with
my distinguished colleague and friend, senator injurir jerry mo commemorate the 150th anniversary of kansas state university, home of the ever-optimistic wild cats. since its beginning, mr. president, even before kansas joined the union as a free state, all the way up to today, kansas state university continues to provide a first-rate education to thousands and thousands of students. to quote the k state alma mater leer rid, i know a spot that i love full well. i long with more than 200,000 alumni have proud to call kansas state university my alma mater, as did my father and also my son. the year was back in 1858 -- 1858 -- when kansas was only a territory, not even state, a
group of local settlers founded blublumonth central college. then only two years into statehood, the state legislature and governor became some of the first to accept the terms and conditions of the morell act, thus creating the land grant system of colleges and universities. on february 16, 1863, kansas state agriculture college formally known today as kansas state university, received a land grant charter and became the first operational -- first operational -- land grant institution in the united states. and over the past 150 years, why, kansas state has progressed and expanded to accommodate the growing needs of its students and the people anythin living ir state of kansas, the people that
it serves so well. so today kansas state university is comprised of nine -- nine -- academic colleges ranging from liberal arts to veterinary medicine. the campus has included its campus to include aniation school and an innovation school in olatha, kansas, also an extension -- has a presence in every county, all 105. these offices are a source of vital information to every farmer and rancher in our state. we are staying true to our land grant -- our land grant roots. back in 1863 kansas state university had its first enrollment, a total of 14 students. this school year kansas state university reached a regular enrollment of more than 24,000 students. these students hail from all 50
states, over 90 countries out of this diverse population, the university has produced industry leaders, heads of state, humanitarians, generals, gifted scientists, and a few public servants. kansas state university has received national recognition for the exceptional education it provides students year after year. kansas state continues to have college programs ranked best in the nation. the university has been recognized as a leader among public universities in total numbers onumbers of rhodes and r scholars. i can't talk about my alma mart without mentioning the athletic program. but since its first football game back in 1883, dedicated fans have been coming to the sports arenas to support our athletes and our teams.
this intercollegiate athletic program has complemented the education and has been a great source of purpose pride for both alumni and kansas. as kansas state university looks towards the future, it sets new goals for the institution and for its students. launched by president kirk schultz in 2010, k state 2025, the university's strategic plan strives to make kansas state university a top 50 of public education institution instituti. thanks to the work done throughout the past 150 years and the research that continues today, i have no doubt that kansas state university is on track to achieve this very important goal. throughout this week and weekend, student, staff, alym nigh and friends of the university will gather in manhattan, kansas, the little
apple, to celebrate the history of kansas state university. on behalf of the united states senate, it is my honor to congratulate kansas state university for its accomplishments over the past 150 years. as the alma mater song say, "it is truly a spot that i love full well." every man a wildcat. i yield to my distinguished friend and colleague, senator moran. mr. moran: mr. president, thank you. i thank the gentleman from kansas. there is no k-state alumni, no individual from our home state who bleeds that color purple more fervently than the senior senator from kansas, and it's an honor to join him here today to recognize the significant accomplishments on the 150th anniversary of the first land-grant university college in the nation. senator roberts comes to kansas
state university through his family. his father as well as his son. and i have become acquainted with kansas state university as a citizen of our state in which we see each and every day the benefits that accrue to the citizens of our state because of the academic research, the education, the extension of education across our state that benefits each and every citizen. so it is with great pleasure that we honor the accomplishments today of this university. it has had tremendous leadership. in my early days in congress, president weefault in many ways created a great opportunity for kansas state university to excel, to become something different than it had been, to move forward into the future. now with the leadership of president kirk shultz, his leadership accelerates the opportunity for kansas state university to provide new and
services, education and benefits to the people of our state, our country and students around the globe. kansas state university is known for its agricultural background, its support for the significant industry in our state. farmers and ranchers look to kansas state university for education, for technical support. we know of their importance in that number-one industry in our state. but as senator roberts said, engineering and aerospace, now a campus at salina, kansas, dealing with aviation and u.a.v.'s moving to the future. a campus in johnson county in which additional research, bioscience, is being accelerated. in each and every circumstance kansas state university contributes to the economy and well-being of the citizens of our state and country. i know kansas state university as a parent. both of our daughters attended kansas state university and one remains a student there. and i remember the first day that i wandered my 17,
18-year-old daughter on to campus for a campus tour. at the end of the day -- and i would admit that we had visited other universities as well. but at the end of the day, kelsey said, dad, there is no place more welcoming, no place more like home, no place in which i feel i'm a part of a family than kansas state university. and that is attribute is something i think k-state exhibits so well and causes kansans to be so proud of the wildcat tradition which is it is a sense of family, that we're in it together, that people are our friends. and it is a very comfortable and enjoyable learning environment for students and we've seen it in our family. our youngest daughter followed her older sister to kansas state university, now a college in vet nature medicine, another area that kansas state university is so highly regarded is the study of animal science. k-state is the western border of the animal science corridor, the
eastern corridor, the university of missouri. from west to east, this corridor, the animal science corridor is bounded by the research scientists and educators and stkaols that increase the -- and schools that increase the likelihoods that americans are going to have nutrition, be well fed and a safe food supply. it is an honor to may pa*eu -- pay tribute to those at kansas state university, to make sure it remains a place of higher education and learning in our state, but also to make certain that kansas state university, manhattan, kansas, is always that place called home, where students from across our state and around the globe feel like they found a family and a place to learn and improve their lives and to make certain that they contribute to the betterment of our world. it's an honor to be here with one of the most distinguished
alumnus of kansas state university, my colleague and friend, senator roberts, to wish that kansas state university many more years of success in providing education to our students and moving our state forward in ways that will only benefit not only this generation but those that follow us. so congratulations, can -- kansas state university. happy 150th birthday. mr. president, i yield back to the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: i thank my dear friend and colleague more specially for highlighting what k-state is all about, and that is family. if you choose to attend kansas state -- and many do. many come from small-town america. many come from big cities. but i think they're all struck by the family atmosphere. and the thing that i think is rather remarkable, even in having the privilege of talking to some of k-state's football
teams and some of the athletes in both basketball, football, all sports in k-state, you're always able to tell them thousands and thousands of fans from k-state know them, know their history, know where they're coming from and always support them regardless of the outcome. and so k-state is a family. k-state's legendary coach, bill schneider, who has achieved miracles on the football team -- or on the football field with team after team after team, always stresses family and togetherness and the proper role of athletics and education. my son david went to k-state. he admittedly fell in love with k-state. he didn't have much of a choice as far as i was concerned. but he did really enjoy himself at k-state. and basically i'm struck by the fact that many of his friends who are graduates, when that -- when that day comes when you graduate or when you leave k-state, those generations
really stick together. and they are friends for life. it is in that vein that i think that the senator's remarks are certainly right on target. and i thank you for that. mr. moran: would the senator yield? mr. president, senator roberts raises something that i wanted to make so clear, which is that kansas state university has been so kind and so beneficial to our two daughters. and while they found it to be home and like family, they have excelled and learned, advanced their lives both personally and professionally in ways that are so important to us as parents. and we have nothing but commendation to offer to kansas state university for the kindness and opportunities they created for our own daughters as they pursue their goals in life. so it's a very personal opportunity for me to express this gratitude to kansas state university for making it so good
for the things that a mom and dad care so much about, our two daughters, kelsey and alex, k-state is an important component of their lives. we, again, are so appreciative of the role that that university has played in educating our children. i yield back to the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: mr. president, we have a double privilege here today in that we obviously are celebrating kansas state university being 150, representing 150 years of outstanding academic service to our people. but also empore i -- emporia ste university is 150 years old and we would like to congratulate emporia state university. it is in the beautiful clint hills of kansas and very dear to our family. my mother attended emporia state
studying education. she went on to become a teacher. emporia state is a teacher's university second to none. she in her day and time spent a lot of time educating kansas children up in atchison, kansas, and was very much like the other proud and accomplished alumni from emporia state. if you want to know about education, all you have to do, and also teacher involvement and teacher progress and some of the real serious challenges that we face today in education, stop by emporia state. they have many fine programs and nothing but the best in terms of graduates that do such a great job. throughout the past 150 years, emporia state has grown to accommodate the needs of the state and the 6,500 students that it currently serves. what was once the kansas state teaching college, emporia state has expanded greatly offering a
wide range of academic programs. and in true kansas fashion, the university faced challenges head on from its earliest days. adversity is not uncommon. our state motto is to the stars through difficulty. but the outstanding faculty and staff that persevered on behalf of their students to provide a quality education, and that continues today with teachers who also provide a quality education. you can't do any better than that. it is with great pride as a kansan and son of an emporia state graduate that i recognize and congratulate emporia state university on its 150th-year anniversary. mr. moran: mr. president, i thank the senator for yielding and appreciate being recognized. our state phra*euss a high -- places a high priority on education. certainly k through 12. but universities, public, private, technical colleges.
today we honor one of those universities in this milestone in its history. emporia state university and its 150th anniversary. benjamin franklin said tell me, and i forget. teach me and i will remember. involve me and i will learn. through learning, students' lives have been changed for the better for more than a century at emporia state university. this is an historic occasion, the 150th anniversary. and i want to recognize the significant impact that emporia state has had on our state and nation. 1863, emporia state was founded as a school for training teachers. back then it was known as kansas normal school, and in its first year the present and only teacher, l wr* -- taught 18 students. at the university's first
commencements president kellogg presented diplomas to its two graduates: mary jane watson and allen plum. in the years that followed it was faced with many challenges: tornadoes, fires, lack of funding. but the university survives and continued each and every year to change the lives of its students. today 6,500 students from 45 states and 5 countries are enrolled at empo r*eu a state university. ranked as a tier 1 university by "u.s. news and world report" it offers the opportunity to participate in more than 130 student organizations. emporia state remains committed to training teachers to a nationally aclaimed teacher training program. if you ask someone who made a difference in your lives, no one says my senator. but they will say if not mom and dad, a teacher. educating teachers is a noble calling. in fact, the teachers college
holds the international reading association award and certificate of distinction for reading preparation for elementary and secondary teachers, one of only five programs honored internationally in 2009. and in a national study of teacher education programs, emporia state was named one of only four postsecondary institutions in the nation to be identified as the exemplary model teacher education. i congratulate emporia state for their success in equipping our nation's educators. as we know, the work of a teacher impacts lives of every american now and in the future. given emporia state's long history and dedication to training teachers, the university now hosts the national teacher hall of fame. each year five of the nation's most outstanding educators are recognized and honored for the jobs they do. by recognizing the difference one teacher can make, the national teachers hall of fame works to promote education and inspire a new generation of
teachers. whether e.s.u. students pursue a career in education or another field, many students continue their studies or return to e.s.u. for graduate work. among all the kansas universities, emporia state earn the highest percentage of graduate degrees. whether the student leaves emporia with their undergraduate or graduate degree they are well prepared in the field they have chosen. students today are involved in community service and emporia state exemplifies that. students there spend much time giving back to the local community. through the community's departments students provided for the elderly and spent free time mentoring younger students through a program called youth friends. currently about 50 students are involved and volunteer once a week with children. one of the teachers at a local
elementary school said this about that program: it is great for children to have a young adult role model to look up to. i have two kids in my class who have youth friends, and they both have benefited greatly. their attitudes about school and life have been changed for the better. what a great way to make a difference and to develop lifelong compassion for others. the alumni of emporia state university numbers more than 75,000. they're from 50 states and 80 doesn't and they're all proud to be called emporia state hornets. alumni from emporia state have gone on to accomplish many great things, and among the many distinguished alumni many green -- minnie green sted first elected to the kansas state legislature in 1918 and the educator of national public radio, for the past 150 years, emporia state has been changing lives. one alumni said this, i was told by a high school guidance
counselor i would never make it to college. e.s.u. gave me an opportunity to try. not only did i earn a bachelor's degree, i earned a master's and a ph.d. thank you, emporia state university. you changed my life in such a positive way. on this historic yiefer anniversary it is with pleasure i join my colleague from kansas to introduce a resolution to congratulate the students, faculty, the new president of emporia state university for 150 years of excellence in higher education. may the next 150 years be even brighter than the last. mr. president, i yield the floor but i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with and that i be allowed to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: i come to the floor today to talk about the fiscal challenges facing this country and particularly the spending problem that we have and how it impacts not only the economy but the lives of the american people. last week, the nonpartisan congressional budget office released the latest budget and economic outlook which confirmed the threat that long-term fiscal imbalances pose to the nation's economy. the congression -- the congressional budget office found that the national debt will climb by $10 trillion to $26 trillion over the next ten years if spending -- if federal spending continues on its current trajectory. spending on mandatory programs will remain on autopilot, resulting in high annual deficits.
now, just as a -- kind of put things in perspective, mr. president, if you go back to 200and you look at what the federal government -- 2007 and you look at what the federal government spent, it was about $2.7 trillion annually. and if you look at what the federal government spent in 2012, fiscal year 2012, which ended september 30 of last year, it was $3.5 trillion. an increase of nearly 30%. now, inflation during that same time period was 10.8%, meaning that government grew at almost three times the rate of inflation. so i -- again, i want to emphasize what sink an important point here because -- what i i think is important point because the point has been made that that this isn't a spending problem, this is more of a revenue issue. well, again, if you look at what's happened just in the past five years, spending has increased nearly 30%, federal spending, or at a rate of almost three times the rate of
inflation. so clearly spending has increased dramatically just in the last five years. now, the trend is projected to continue over the next ten years and beyond, with spending exceeding its historical average over that time period and then ballooning in the years beyond that. now, such levels of spending will cause the federal debt to grow, and according to the congressional budget office -- and i quote -- "such a large debt would increase the risk of a fiscal crisis during which investors would lose so much confidence in the government's ability to manage its budget that the government would be unable to borrow at affordable rates." again, why is this important? well, obviously, if the deficit continues -- the deficits continue to continue year after year after year, adding more and more to the federal debt, eventually investors are going to lose confidence in our government and they're going to demand a higher return, higher interest rate when we borrow money. well, that obviously has an impact all across the economy.
because when interest rates go up, everything else that's pegged to it g goes up. if you look at middle-class americans who are trying to borrow money, for example, to buy a home, or to get a college education, for a small business to make investments in order to expand and create jobs, the interest rates go up for everyone. inflation also goes up if the anything's fiscal challenges are not addressed, meaning that hard-earned dollars aren't going to go as far, and that's going to put further pressure on hardworking middle-class families. mr. president, the threat of the budget challenges facing this country are very, very real and they face our economy because of this report that came out last week from the congressional budget office. it confirmed really that we are headed toward greece if we don't take the steps that are necessary to change the direction that we're on. that reality, however, unfortunately, is lost on a lot of people here in washington, d.c. as i said earlier, there's been this debate about whether or not we do, in fact, have a spending
problem in this country. well, over the weekend, the democrat leader in the house of representatives, nancy pelosi, repeated what has become doctrine to many in the democratic party and that is the idea that the united states government doesn't have a spending problem. federal spending, she said -- and i quote -- "it is almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem." this comes from the top democrat in the house of representatives. i"it is almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem." well, obviously, the white house scrambled quickly the next day to come out and say, yes, yes, we know we have a spending problem, but there are reporting out there that suggests that the president of the united states has also made that assertion, that this is not a spending problem. i don't know how you can look at any -- take any examination of the federal budget projections and not come to the conclusion that we have a spending problem, mr. president, and it is driver -- it is driving our national debt, a debt that's very harmful to our economy.
again, you don't have to look any fawrt than the congressional budget -- farther than the congressional budget office report last week to see that this really is a spending problem, not a revenue problem, because that same c.b.o. report came out and said that the revenues -- money that's raised by the federal government -- is returning to its historical average of 17.9% of g.d.p. and that's the way we measure the amount of revenue coming in to the treasury, as a percentage of our entire economy. you measure that over time. and getting back to the historical average, the 40-year average, would be 17.9%. well, if you look at the year 2015 as a case in point, the revenues get back in the year 2015 to 19.1% of g.d.p., which is a 25% increase in just two years. significantly exceeding the historical average. and if you look at the ten-year outlook, the ten-year outlook that the c.b.o. came up with, they said that revenues would average 18.9% over the next decade, which is almost a full percentage point more than the
40-year historical average. the point, mr. president, is -- is this. revenues are back up to not only at historical levels -- will be there by 2015 and stay there for the next decade -- but will exceed the historical average for revenues over the next ten years. and so clearly what we're talking about here is not a problem of washington taxing too little, it is a problem of washington spending too much. now, i know that truth is hard and that math is hard to accept for the people who want to grow government, but we absolutely have to govern in reality. and what the math shows is that mandatory spending, which, as i said, is on autopilot, continues to squeeze the federal government and the federal budget to a point where we're going to face a greece-style fiscal crisis if washington continues to punt on the hard decisions that have to be made. mandatory spending comprise roughly 60% of federal spending in fiscal year 2012.
and if you look at the big drivers of mandatory spending -- medicare, medicaid, social security alone -- represented 40% of that total, again, according to the congressional budget office. now, congress and the administration have an opportunity in the coming months to reform these entitlement programs not only to get this country back on a more sustainable fiscal track but also to save and protect these programs not only for current retirees but for future generations of americans as well. and that's why i was disappointed last night that the president in his state of the union address failed to lay out a plan to address the fiscal challenges our country faces. i hope that the president and my colleagues here in the congress will come to the table and work with us to solve these problems, particularly -- particularly as we consider ways to address the sequester, the continuing resolution, which follows after that, and the fiscal year 2014 budget resolution. we cannot simply wait and watch
these programs crumble under the weight of looming insolvency. we know that social security has been operating, has operated a cash deficit, did so in 2010. the medicare trustees have told us that medicare will be insolvent by the year 2024. and in the h.i. trust fund actually by as early as the year 2016. if we're going to keep the promises that we have made to current retirees and to future generations of americans, we have got to make these programs solvent, mr. president. that means we have got to reform them in a way that saves and protects them and make sure that they are fiscally sustainable not only for today but for the future as well. and i have to say that as i've, you know, listened to the debate about the issue of spending and debt, there's always -- there's an argument that's made by those on the other side that, well, really this is just because of the two wars and the two wars drove up spending and, you know,
we weren't -- they weren't paid for and that's the reason that we have this -- this $16.4 trillion debt. well, obviously, the wars have contributed to that, but if you look at through 2012, that's about $1.4 trillion. and, obviously, i would say, mr. president as well, to be fair, that, you know, republicans have contributed to this as well as democrats. when republicans were in charge of the congress, we didn't do a good enough job of keeping spending under control. but the fact of the matter is that even if you count in spending on iraq and afghanistan, that's about $1. $1.4 trillion. okay? well, the total debt now, as i said, is over $16 trillion, scheduled to go to $26 tri triln ten years from now. and over the course of just the first four years of this president's term, his first term in office, the debt has increased almost $6 trillion. so it's really hard to feature
any objective analysis of these facts, of this data and say that it was the wars that somehow caused all this. mr. president, washington has been overspending for a really, really long time. and it is high time for those habits to change. and i would also say, too, that if you look at the -- the wars that's winding down, the costs that we're -- or the money that we're putting into -- the resources that we're putting into those conflicts, those dollars are not going to be showing up again as expenditures in the next few years, and we still have the congressional budget office telling us that at the end of the next decade, we'll have added an additional $10 trillion to the debt. so clearly, that's not been -- it's certainly been a factor but it has not been the main fact tirfactor.again, there there hao objective analysis that spending on the wars has been the driving reason for why we're facing the debt crisis that we have today. and i would simply say, too, that when you are in a hole, the -- it's advisable to quit
digging. and obviously, we continue to look at ways to add more and more spending and, therefore, more and more debt. the health care bill is not something that anybody on ply my side here noot united states senate supported when it passed here in 200-- here in the united states senate supported when it passed here in 200and early 2010, but that too is going to drive up debt, as you heard, in future. and you heard from the president last night a whole new series of new spending initiatives, investments, he called them, in a whole range of areas. and as he was sort of laying that out, those of us who were listening to that message were thinking to ourselves, okay, if you had a calculator on this thing, it just keeps going and going and going. and yet the president said we didn't need to add a single dime to the deficit. well, i don't know how anybody could accept that with a straight face. it just flat doesn't pass the smell test. we have a spending problem here in washington, washington, d.c. the facts bear that out. revenues are going up. they're going to go up 25% according to the congressional budget office in the next two
years. in 2015, they will be at 19.1% of g.d.p., an average that we haven't seen or number that we haven't mean? a long, long time. and then they will stay roughly at that for the next decade. this is not a revenue problem. this is not a problem where washington taxes too little. this is a problem where washington spends too much. if you look at the other side of the equation, spending continues to go up as a percentage of g.d.p. we see a little bit of relief here in the next few years but then when the costs of the affordable care act start hitting, when you start seeing the demographics of the country as they continue to change, if we don't do something to save and protect social security and medicare for future generations, it is going to bankrupt us. we are headed for a train wreck, mr. president. we have got to do something about that and recognize what that problem is. that problem, purely and simply, is that washington spends too much. it is a spending problem and that's why, again, when i heard
the speaker -- or the top democrat, the minority leader in the house of representatives, say over the weekend that it's a false argument to say that this is a spending problem, i -- i was shocked because i think that most americans would argue as they look at this and they can do the math, washington has a very serious spending problem which needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. but i thought that the report that came out from the congressional budget office last week was instructive, mr. president, for a number of reasons. it pointed out the impact that debt is going to have as we face this debt crisis, in terms of interest rates, in terms of inflation, in terms of loss of jobs and a more sluggish economy. we know from history that when you get a certain amount of de debt, it become says such a drag on your -- becomes such a drag on your economy that it reduces your economic growth. and so we've seen this anemic economic growth which i think is going to be continued now for the foreseeable future. so we've got slower growth, fewer jobs, massive amounts of
debt. and eventually what that's going to mean for the middle-class american in this country is higher interest rate, when it comes to buying a home, when it comes to buying a car, when it comes to financing a college education. it's going to mean lower take-home pay, when the economy slows down and there isn't the demand for workers out there. there are so many adverse impacts on our economy from carrying the kind of debt load that we're carrying today. and i think we have a responsibility so lead, and i would say to the president, i hope the president of the united states will lead on this issue. that he in his budget will put forward the types of remedies that are necessary not only to deal with our short-term crisis in the sequester but also to put us long term on a sustainable fiscal path by proposing refor reforms, reforms to our -- these programs that are driving federal spending, that are -- are going to add massive amounts to our debt over the course of the next decade and beyond and
at the same time look at things that we can be doing that would generate economic growth and create jobs in approximate this country. because when the economy is growing and expanding, then all of these problems look smaller in comparison. republicans here in the senate are ready to work with the president, work with democrats. we're anxious to go to work on entitlement reform, on saving social security and medicare. we're anxious to go to work on reforming our tax code in a way that would unleash economic growth and get that -- that robust growth that we need in the economy to create jobs and make these -- these deficit -- the deficit -- the debt crisis that we face look much smaller by comparison. so the -- i just hope, mr. president, in the days ahead, the president of the united states and the leadership here on capitol hill and the united states congress will do what we should have done a long time ago. it's long overdue for action. it's high time that we got busy and got about the work of the american people, and that is providing a more secure, a more
prosperous, a safer and a debt-free future for future generations. anything less is -- is negating or undermining the responsibility that we have to the american people. mr. president, i yield the floor.
mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: we were not in a quorum. mr. reid: miracles never cease. the presiding officer: that's true, senator reid. mr. reid: mr. president, i have talked to senator inhofe, the ranking member of the armed services committee. it's very clear that he and a number of republicans are not willing to enter into an agreement for consideration of the hagel nomination. therefore, i move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 10. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of defense, charles timothy hagel of nebraska to be
secretary of defense. the presiding officer: without objection, the motion to proceed is agreed to. mr. reid: mr. president, i send a cloture motion to the desk anded ask the clerk -- and ask the clerk to report. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion, we the undersigned senators in accordance with the rules of 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close debate on nomination of charles timothy hagel of nebraska to be secretary of defense, signed by 17 senators as follows -- mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from -- the majority leader is recognized. without objection, the reading of the names is dispensed with.
mr. reid: this is the first time in the history of our country that a presidential nominee for secretary of defense has been filibustered. what a shame. but that's the way it is. i ask consent that under rule 22, the mandatory quorum be waived. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: i also ask the cloture vote -- i don't ask -- under the rule, this cloture vote will occur on friday. members should plan accordingly. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan is recognized. politburo -- mr. levin:
mr. president, now that the nomination of senator hagel is before us, i want to begin this cushion and debate -- this discussion and debate with a few remarks about him. mr. levin: the committee sent it to the floor yesterday by a vote of 14-11. senator hagel has received broad support from a wide array of senior statesmen and defense and foreign policy organizations. at his january 31 nomination hearing, before the armed services committee, senator hagel was enthusiastically introduced and endorsed by two former chairmen of our committee, chairmen who have huge bipartisan support and respect by everybody in this body and everybody outside of this body who knows them, and those two chairmen are sam nunn and john warner. senator hagel's nomination has been endorsed by five former
secretaries of defense who served under both democratic and republican presidents, bob gates, bill cohen, bill perry, harold brown and melvin leery. he has been endorsed by three former secretaries of state, madeleine albright, colin powell and george shultz, and by six former national security advisors who served in that position for more than 20 years under six of the last seven presidents. let me just share with our colleagues a few of the words of senator nunn when he introduced senator hagel to our committee. senator nunn said that i believe that our nation is fortunate to have a nominee for secretary of defense with the character, the experience, the courage and the leadership that chuck hagel
would bring to this position. first, chuck is acutely aware that even in an age of rapid technological advances, our military capability and effectiveness depend on the quality and the morale of the people who serve our nation in uniform as well as the families that support them. senator nunn continued, "chuck received two purple hearts in vietnam, and when he returned home, he continued to fight for veterans and for active duty military personnel. he knows that our people are our strongest assets." "second, chuck's spine chuck's n vietnam shaped his perspective. war for chuck is not a traction. i am confident that if confirmed he will ask the hard and smart questions before sending troops into battle." i this i that i misread that
word. i think it was that war for chuck hagel is not "an abstraction." "chuck hagel knows that the united states has vital interests that are worth fighting ford and dyinfighting . he also knows that war should be a last resort, that our nation must effectively use all of our tools, not limit it only to our military to protect our important and our vital interests. certainlcertainly there is a ten these values but it is a tension that we should welcome in the thought process and in the advice that our secretary of defense gives to our commander in chief and to this congress. from our service together on the defense policy board in recent years, i know that chuck hagel has a clear world view and that it alliance with the mainstream of u.s. foreign and defense
policy and also with president obama. chuck hagel believes that we must build and preserve american strength as a force or good in the world. he recognizes that protecting our interests requires strong allies and friends as well as strong american leadership." and senator warner's extraordinarily powerful and warm comments concluded as follows: "there is an old saying in the combat army infantry and marine corps, 'certain men are asked to take the point' which means to get out and lead in the face of the enemy." and senator warner said that chuck hagel did that. as a sergeant in vietnam. if confirmed, chuck hagel will do it again. this time not before a platoon but before every man and woman and their families in the armed
services. he will lead them, and they will know in their hearts that we have one of our own. close quote. senator hagel has received a letter of endorsement from 11 retired senior military officers who say that -- quote -- "chuck hagel is uniquely qualified to meet the challenges facing the department of defense and our men and women in uniform. he has received a letter of endorsement from nine former ambassadors who worked with him on middle east issues. that letter says in parks "each- that letter says in parks "each of us has known the senator over the past 20 years and has found him ink variably one of the best informed leaders in the u.s. congress on the issues of u.s. national security."
senator hagel's political courage has impressed us all. time and again he chose to took the path of standing up for our nation over political expediency. he has demonstrated strong support for israel and for a two-state solution and has been ha opposed to those hopped undermine or threaten israel's security. i can think of few more qualified, more nonpartisan, more courageous or better equipped to head the department of defense." that's from nine former ambassadors who worked with senator hagel on middle east issues. senator hagel's nomination has been -- and let me read those -- who those ambassadors are. nicholas burns, former under secretary of state for political affairs, ambassador to nato and greece; ryan crocker, former ambassador to iraq and afghanistan; edward juragian, former ambassador to israel and
syria; william harep, former ambassador to israel, daniel kurtzer, samuel lewis, former ambassador to israel; william lewers, former ambassador to venezuela and czechoslovakia; tom pickering, former under secretary of state, ambassador to israel and russia; frank women of sner, former under secretary of defense for policy and ambassador to egypt and to india. mr. president, senator hagel's nomination has been supported by the major groups of american veterans, including the veterans of foreign wars, the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america, amvets, vietnam veterans of america, and the american legion. he has received support from military officers association of
america, foreign area officers association, and the noncommissioned officers acomes ssociation. -- association. senator hagel has been endorsed by numerous newspapers, including "usa today" situated that many -- which stated that many of the supposed weaknesses that republican senators hammered him on are actually proof that hagel takes thoughtful positions, doesn't bend easily to pressure. i'd like to read just a few quotes from those organizations of veterans. veterans -- that have endorsed him. veterans of foreign wars says the following: "it is not the place for america's oldest and largest combat veterans organization to advise or recommend to the president who he should nominate for cabinet positions. however, the veterans of foreign washes owars of the united stats
considers chuck hagel, twice-wounded vietnam war infantryman and former two-term united states senator from nebraska, to be uniquely qualified to lead the department of defense." that's signed by robert wallace, who is the executive director of the v.f.w. the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america wrote the following: "without senator hagel's leadership in washington, there would not be a post-9/11 g.i. bill. senator hagel has always been a strong advocate for veterans at the department of defense, there's no doubt he will continue that legacy. time and time again, from vietnam to the v.a. to the u.s.o., senator hagel has answered his country's call to serve, demonstrating courage, characteristic, and resolve at every turn. we encourage the senate to approve his nomination swiftly."
signed paul richoff, founder and chief executive officer. the amvet's national commander cleave gear endorsed president obama's nomination of chuck hagel as -- with the following comments: "amvets fully supports president obama's nomination of chuck hagel for the future secretary of defense. as a veterans service organization, amvet's main mission is to serve as an advocate for veterans, their families, and the community in which they live. i'm confident that former senator hagel will utilize his experience and understanding of america's military to lead this nation's troops and the department of defense." the organization vote wrote this, a petition signed by over 800,000 vets and families. "senator hagel is a tremendous
pick for secretary of defense, and i have little doubt that he will serve president obama with distinct both as a voice of reason and as a faithful advocate for carrying out the policies of the commander in chief." that was signinged by john soltz. military officers association of america wrote the following: "while the military officers association of america does not endorse or oppose specific candidates for elected or appointed office, we believe senator hagel is certainly a candidate who is fully qualified for appointment to this extremely important position. our past work with senator hagel has been very positive, and we believe that he brings and important sensitivity to the human side of budget and operational considerations. his experience as a combat-bounded vietnam veteran, as deputy administrator of the
v.a. and his two terms in the senate provide a range of perspectives that would serve any secretary of defense well. we previously recognized senator hagel's efforts to protect the interests of military beneficiaries with our arthur merrick's congressional leadership award. we do not believe that cabinet nominees should be held hostage to political litmus tests." and that was signed admiral no norbert ryan. the noncommissioned officers association of the united states wrote the following: "we strongly support the appointment of chuck hagel to be secretary of defense. his military service, including being twice wounded in action, has instilled the values of service and personal sacrifice for which he knows well the human costs of war. he has been an advocate for
soldiers, marines, sailors, to ensure the training and equipage of america's 21st military force to coincide with a solid, revised defense pos touch postut conventional and unconventional challenges. senator hagel has also champ oned personnel issues relating to combat well-time, force protection, transition issues, including electronic medical issues, preparation for future employment and training, veterans' benefits including enhancements to post-9/11 educational benefits. he also recognizes the value and the sacrifice of families, of the men and women who serve in this nation's uniformed services. signed richard schneider, executive director for government affairs." the vietnam veterans of america wrote: "we like hagel. we think he is a greater guy and
having a combat veteran in there would be a good thing." hagel is a longtime member of the visa lee gong. he served after he returned from vietnam. he is a longtime advocate for the veterans and especially for veterans exposed to agent orange. our organization has consulted with him, among others, on various national security matters. having said that the american legion is prohibited by our congressional charter from endorsing any candidate for elected or appointed office." vietnam veterans memorial fund: jan shrowtz wroting following:, >> when he was the number-two manage at the veterans administration, he had just thrown out of his office some people who were demanding that he stop his support for the design for the vietnam veterans memorial. his integrity and toughness were impressive then.
embog qualities have grown since. long before he became a senator, mr. hagel was an infantryman in vietnam. he fought the enemy up close, and he had to put americans in body bags. i'm sure that as defense secretary, he would not hesitate to use military force aggressively, if our nation or its allies are in danger, yet he knows well that war is terribly unpredictable and needs to be avoided. he has shown some furry at those who have -- some fury at these who have never seen war but encouraged it during the past decade. this is called 'courage'. he has earned his stripes." mr. president, senator hagel's credentials are underscored by the service in war and in peace that has been described so
eloquently in all those letters from those veterans organizations. as a young man, senator hagel enlisted in the army, served in vietnam, where he received two purple hearts, the army commendation medaled on the onee combat infantryman badge for his service. he volunteered to go to vietnam. he answered the question, where are you? by answering "here i am." senator hagel served as deputy administrator of the veterans administration during the reagan administration. he was twice elected to the senate where he served ogee the foreign -- he served on the foreign relations and intelligence committees. since he left the senate four years ago, senator hagel as served as chamber of the board of directors of the atlantic council. the atlantic council counts among its other directors and honorary directors seven former secretaries of state and four
former secretaries of defense, along with numerous other senior officials from the administrations of both parties. the atlantic council is very much a part of the mainstream of the american foreign policy establishment. much of the time and attention at our committee hearing was devoted to a hand full of statements that senator hagel made over the course of his career that raised questions about his views on israel, iran and other issues. senator hagel explained or clarified these statements, placed them in context. he apologized for one remark and told the committee he would say other things differently if he had the chance or were making them over. senator hagel was clear in the positions that he takes today and that he will take if confirmed as secretary of defense. in particular, senator hagel stated unequivocally, first -- quote -- "iran poses a significant threat to the united
states, our allies and partners and our interests in the region and globally. iran continues to pursue and elicit nuclear program that threatens to provoke a regional arms race and undermine the global nonproliferation regime. iran is also one of the main state sponsors of terrorism and could spark conflict, including against u.s. personnel and interests." second, he is -- quote -- "fully committed to the president's goal of preventing iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon" and that -- quote -- "all options must be on the table to achieve that goal and his policy, if confirmed will be, quote, one of prevention, not containment." third, while he believes engagement is clearly in our interest, engagement, he said, is not negotiation. he stated, i've never thought
engagement is a weakness. i never thought it was surrender. i never thought it was appeasement. i think it's clearly in our interest. get the international sanctions behind you, keep military options on the table. and if the military option is the only option, it's the only option. close quote. finally he said that he is -- quote -- "a strong supporter of israel" and believes that -- quote -- "we have a special relationship with israel." if confirmed he will -- quote -- "ensure our friend and ally israel maintains its qualitative military edge in the region and will continue to support -- he will continue to support systems like iron dome, which is today saving israeli lives from terrorists rocket attacks." senator hagel also recognized the very real risks posed to our
national security as a result of the unique budgetary pressure arising out of cuts previously agreed upon by congress, the budgeting by continuing resolution and the impending threat of a sequester. senator hagel told the committee -- quote -- "sequestration, if allowed to occur, would damage our readiness, our people and our military families. it would result in the grounding of aircraft and returning ships to port, reducing the department's global presence and ability to rapidly respond to contingencies. vital training would be reduced by half of current plans and the department would be unable to reset equipment from afghanistan in a timely manner." and he continued, "the department would reduce training and maintenance for nondeploying units and would be forced to reduce procurement and vital weapons systems and suffer the
subsequent schedule delays and price increases." and he continued -- quote -- "civilian employees would be furloughed for up to 22 days. all of these effects also negatively impact long-term readiness. it would send a terrible signal to our military and civilian workforce, to those we hope to recruit and to both our allies and adversaries around the world." close quote. mr. president, one of our colleagues has alleged that senator hagel has failed to
provide complete financial disclosure and suggested despite the admitted lack of evidence of any kind that senator hagel may have received money that -- quote -- "came directly from saudi arabia, came directly from north korea." in fact, there is no evidence from that, but that's the kind of innuendo which was made and i believe should not have been made. as a matter of fact, senator hagel has provided the exact same financial disclosure that the committee requires of all nominees, including at least the last eight secretaries of defense. as required by the arms services committee and ethics in government act, he has disclosed all compensation, over $5,000 that he has received in the last two years. he's required by the armed services committee, he has received letters from the tkerbgt of the office of -- from the tkerbgt of -- director of
ethics certifying he has met all conflict of interest requirements. as required by the armed services committee, he has answered a series of questions about possible foreign affiliations. among other questions, the committee asked whether during the last ten years the nominee or his spouse -- quote -- "received any compensation from or has been involved in any financial or business transactions with a foreign government or an entity controlled by a foreign government." senator hagel's answer was no. senator hagel, like all of our nominees, has undergone a thorough f.b.i. background investigation. and senator inhofe and i reviewed the f.b.i. file. innuendo that senator hagel could somehow be hiding the fact that he's on the payroll of a foreign power is offensive to those of us who have served with him and is beneath the dignity of the united states senate. i ask unanimous consent that a
series of letters in which certain senators requested additional financial disclosure and the letter that i responded with be made part of the record at this time. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. levin: mr. president, the department of defense right now needs its new leader. its current leader who has done a great job has announced that he is leaving and has set a time for that departure. we face a budgetary challenge of immense proportions not just in the department of defense but in all of our agencies. our military is engaged in combat operations overseas. north korea has exploded a nuclear guise, highly pro -- nuclear device, highly provocative and must be countered. the absence of senior leader in the department of defense will harm our national defense, will
harm our men and women in uniform and sends exactly the wrong message to both our friends and our adversaries around the world. if confirmed, senator hagel would be the first former enlisted man and the first veteran of the vietnam war to serve as secretary of defense. this background gives senator hagel an invaluable perspective. not only with respect to the difficult decisions and recommendations that a secretary of defense must make regarding the use of force and the commitment of u.s. troops overseas, but also with respect to the day-to-day decisions that a secretary must make to ensthaour -- ensure our phefrpl phefrpl men and women in uniform receive the assistance they deserve. itthey will know one of their on holds the highest office in the
department of defense and that he has their backs. the president needs to have a secretary of defense in whom he has trust, who will give him unvarnished advice, a person of integrity and one who has a personal understanding of the consequences of decisions relative to the use of military force. senator hagel certainly has those critically important qualifications. he is well qualified to lead the department of defense. and, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senior senator from rhode island is recognized. mr. reed: senator lee from utah is here. i would ask unanimous consent that when he concludes his remarks that i be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah is recognized. mr. lee: mr. president, i rise today to pay tribute to a special class of people who are critical to the success of any u.s. senator.
during the recent super bowl game, one advertisement stood out among all the others. it was an advertisement that was based on a tribute from the great american paul harvey. it was entitled "so god made a farmer." while i respect and admire farmers greatly, and especially those that i know from utah, i'm also certain that my colleagues in this chamber will agree that when it comes to this institution, we can rightly change that statement ever so slightly to say so god made a chief of staff. my first chief of staff, spencer stokes, is returning to utah. he's also returning to his family and to private life after two extraordinary years serving me in my office. i offer this tribute to him and to all great chiefs of staff who labor here on capitol hill. when god looked down on the senate, he realized that
senators alone could never keep things running, and he said, i need a caretaker. so god made a chief of staff. he needed someone whose first thought in the morning and last thought at night would be about helping and serving a senator who would rise before dawn and organize the day, set the strategy, deal with the thick and thin, and steer the senator away from bad meetings, bad policy, bad people, someone who would work out of the office and work in the office, who would skip holidays, birthdays and parties in pursuit of their service. who would stay past midnight waiting for a vote and then be willing to get up at the crack of dawn the next morning to do it all over again. so god made a chief of staff. he needed someone with thick skin, strong will and at the same time a soft touch, strong enough to herd cats and jet gentle enough to comfort a
grieving constituent or staff member. someone to tame the cantankerous bureaucracy of government, creatively solve problems big and small and patiently listen to a hostile constituent with an ax to grind and then tell that same constituent to come back again real soon. and mean it. so god made a chief of staff. god said i need someone that can shape a staff, shine shoes, horse trade for furniture and office space, navigate a litany of ethics rules and other requirements and play the role of cruise director on countless constituent tours of washington, d.c. someone who would put in a full 40 hours by tuesday at noon and then put in another 72 hours on top of that by the end of the week. so god made a chief of staff. he had to have someone willing to sprint at double speed, to stay ahead of a news story and yet stop on a dime and pivot to help the real people of this
country no matter what the consequences, no matter what the circumstances, and regardless of what the press might be doing at the moment. he needed someone who when the senator becomes surrounded by "yes" men is willing to humbly, yet firmly and resolutely say no, sir. so god made a chief of staff. he said i need someone strong enough to catch arrows, take heat, and endure weathering criticism and patiently listen to angry voices, someone who is just fine with little prominence, praise, prestige or perks and who above all is fiercely loyal and forever has the senator's back. so god made a chief of staff. i'm fairly certain that when god looked down on a newly elected senator from utah during the final months of 2010, he knew that any old chief of staff wouldn't do. so in my case he actually chose a farmer, a turkey farmer to be
specific, from utah, and his name is spencer stokes. spencer has been a truly outstanding chief of staff. doing the heavy lifting and provide the herculean effort required to set up the office and build a staff from scratch proved to be spencer's forte. it proved to be easy for him, or at least he made it look that way. he has an eye for detail like no other. though we do occasionally need him to zoom out. straight chairs in the conference room, straight desks and even straight ties all set the stage for straight talk about issues and policy and serving constituents. spencer's love of utah and its people is unequaled. as a first order of business, he set out to make my office something of an embassy for my state. so when you walk into our office, you're actually walking, quite literally, into utah from the art on the walls to the
naming of the conference rooms, from our legendary jell-o wednesday, to the staff reading of the small-town utah newspapers each week. everything leads to an experience in our office and everything in our office is an experience of utah. spencer will long be remembered and appreciated for his handwritten notes, the best night tour in d.c., true story, bringing people together, confetti cannons, lots of laughter and a tireless commitment to make bad things good and good things even better. now, from spencer's perspective there are no small parts, there are no small players in this great institution that is the united states senate. he didn't just preach that philosophy, he lived it every single day he was here. as a testament to that we noted that when we asked him to
provide a list of all the people that he wanted invited to his well -- farewell party, at the top of spencer's list there were people who were not necessarily of high status. no, at the top of the list was reserved for the people who really make this place go. cashiers and cooks, security personnel, guides, and junior staff from nearly every corner of this building. i salute spencer stokes for his service to our nation, to this institution, and to the people of utah. i salute spencer for his service to me and to my family. i will forever be thankful that god made a chief of staff and especially thankful for a particularly extraordinary chief of staff, spencer stokes. thank you, mr. president.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from rhode island is recognized. mr. reed: i would first ask unanimous consent that brian heisman and melissa duro be granted privileges of the floor for this session of the 113th congress. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president,. i rise today to express my support for nomination of senator chuck hagel to be the next secretary of defense. he comes to this job an extraordinary challenging time for the department and for our nation. among the many issues he will confront, senator hagel will oversee the drawdown of forces from afghanistan, the management of fair yus physical constraints on the defense budget. in fact, i can't think of a more critical juncture of national security issues, budget issues, technology issues, all coming together facing the next secretary of defense.
i have known chuck for many years and i know he is particularly well suited to tackle these challenges. chuck was born and raised in nebraska, the oldest of four sons of a world war ii veteran, public service, military service is in that family's core. when his father died suddenly at the age of 39, chuck quickly shoulderrered the responsibility of helping mother raise his brothers. and when our nation was in the midst of a bitter and divisive fight in vietnam, he volunteered to fight there serving alongside his brother tom. this is an era when there were people looking for ways to, through deferments to avoid service, to avoid wearing the uniform of the united states. he was unusual in that he not only sought service but in vietnam alongside his brother. he rose to be an faintry sergeant and he and his brother
wounded twice would with each saving each other's lives. in that experience as a combat infantryman, he knows perhaps better than anyone who has been nomed for this office the ultimate cost of our policies that are made here in washington. when he returned home, chuck used the g.i. bill to attend the university of nebraska in omaha and after graduating from there he went to washington to work for freshman congressman and from his home state. in 1980, president reagan recognizing his skill, his talent, his patriotism, his devotion to the country nominated him to be deputy administrator of the department of veterans' affairs. he ultimately left that post on a matter of principle. he felt there was inadequate support for veterans suffering from exposure to agent orange. at that time, the effects of agent orange were being dismissed by some as
nonconsequential, as something that was just a made-up maldy by these -- malady by these veterans. chuck knew differently and later the science would prove him right. he continued to fight as he left the veterans administration helping ensure these veterans who were affected physically affected by their service in vietnam received compensation as the victims of agent orange. in that tenure as the deputy secretary for the department of veterans' affairs he had the responsibility for running a large federal department so he is now bringing not only his service as a combat infantry man, but service running a large department devoted to the veterans of this united states, and that will serve him well as secretary of defense and, again, makes him singularly if not uniquely qualified. but it doesn't stop there.
because he has extraordinary experience in the private sector. in the mid 1980's he cofounded vanguard cellular systems, one of the largest cellular systems in the country. again,, someone from modest means with great imagination after serving his country both as a soldier and as administrator under the reagan administration, went back and started a business. and made it successful. so successful that he was able to devote himself to other public activities. he served as deputy commissioner general of the united states in 1982 world's fair. he was president and chief executive officer of the u.s.o., the agency devoted to helping service members and their families. again his commitment to the american soldier, sailor, airman, marine, has been consistent, constant, unrelenting. and then he became chief
operating officer of the 1990 economic summit of industrial nations, the g-7 summit in houston. the president of an investment bank. and on the board of some of the world's largest companies. so you already have at this juncture a soldier, a successful entrepreneur, a successful federal administrator. then in 1996, he came to the united states senate. to represent the people of nebraska. he was the first republican senator from nebraska in a generation. he we came here together. and he came with all of these skills and he added more skills, understanding the political process from the inside and from the outside. that helped shaped national security policy, the budgets and the policies of the department of defense and every other federal budget. during his time in the senate, as a member of the senate foreign relations and intelligence committees, he championed national security policy with the goal of ensuring our military remained the strongest in the world.
senator hagel believes in working closely with our allies and partners and that in his words, a nation must strategically employ all instruments of power to defend its interests. so he brings a broad, comprehensive approach to national security which is essential for our next secretary of defense. because so many of the challenges that we face, the national security challenges, are not simply military, they're diplomatic, they are economic, they are environmental, they require the broad ranging approach that he takes to national security policy. and as he stated during his nomination hearing two weeks ago, he has one fundamental question that he is asked himself on every vote he took while serving in the senate. is the policy worthy of the men and women that we were sending into battle and surely to their deaths? is this going to be worth the sacrifice because there will be sacrifices. and it is one thing to study the
art of war in lecture halls and to speak profoundly as a pundit. it's something else to be in the mud, under fire, seeing others fall. i have not had that experience. i served for 12 years in the united states army, but very few people, very few people in this chamber, very few people who would be considered for secretary of defense, have been under fire, have seen comrades fall. know ultimately that what we do here is borne by what those brave young americans do across the globe. and he knows that intellectually and viscerally. and i know he'll bring that perspective, that concern for our men and women in uniform to every decision before him as secretary of defense. in this role he'll continue to focus our efforts on fighting
terrorism in afghanistan and throughout that region. we are facing a crucial turning point in a -- in his state of the union address last night the president announced plans to further reduce levels in afghanistan over the next year as the afghan national security forces will take full responsibility for securing their nation. senator haigle is very well positioned to carry out this policy, to ensure it's done effectively, ensure our forces are protected and help enable the afghan forces to carry the burden to defend their country and provide stability. senator hagel will also lead the department in preparing for emerging threats to national security such as attacks on our obstacle frat fast. we aring,, infrastructure. we at a point acib cin to the 1920's when air power began to emerge as a credible military dimension. men then later as space became
possible. cyber is now a new dimension in warfare. we are at the junk tower where some colleagues wondering how we use these contraptions that fly around the sky. but in a short period of time, air power made a profound difference on the world. if attack on pearl harbor was launched by aircraft, from aircraft carriers, not by the bombardment of battleships or the landing of military forces. and you can see the effect it had not only through world war ii in every conflict but till today. we're at another juncture, that is cyber. how will we defend ourselves, what policies will we adopt to use this new technology to protect the united states and our allies. it will require integration across our government. it will require thoughtful,
conscious deliberation. and i believe he is prepared to do that and do that very well. i was pleased that president obama has just issued an executive order to improve information sharing so we can better protect our nation's infrastructure but there is more to be done and i believe in the context of the secretary of defense, chuck hagel can do it. perhaps most challenging of all, senator hagel will lead the department in a time of great fiscal constraints and uncertainty. as our nation continues to find a path forward to rebound from the economic challenges of the last few years there are is an evergrowing pressure to reduce the size of the defense budget which has nearly doubled over the past ten years but we must be careful to do so in a way that eliminates unsustainable and unproductive costs without losing vital capabilities. and that is a great challenge. as a result of the high
operations tempo of our services, the multiple operations and deployments, all of our services are facing serious recapitalization needs in terms of equipment and also significant efforts to help our military members and their families. readjust, retrain, reequip, and prepare for a challenging future. serious decisions will have to be made about the threats that we face and anticipate new and emerging threats and again, he is well prepared through his entire life of public service, military service, private service, administrative, business activities, to confront these extraordinary range of challenges. now, a lot has been made about some comments that senator hagel has made in the last years going back five, seven, eight years.
but i know, indeed which was reflected in his testimony, that he did not seek out this position. president obama chose to nominate chuck hagel because he knew of his record, of his service to country. he knew of his incredible commitment to the men and women who wear the uniform of the united states. he knew about his experience in the private sector. he knew about his experience as a governmental leader. and he knew that there was a -- an ability to rely upon his judgment, senator hagel's judgment, with confidence in times of crisis. and i expect that the president of the united states is not going to turn to chuck hagel and ask him can he